British Sugar at Wissington, built in 1925, is the largest beet sugar factory in the world and the most efficient in Europe – operational 355 days per year. The operation runs with 267 permanent employees peaking at 500 including non-permanent staff during campaign periods when the sugar beet is being brought into the factory. During this campaign period over 3 million tons of beets are processed with 1,000 trucks visiting the site every day. That’s a truck every 45 seconds. In total 420,000 tons of sugar are produced per year, some of which is stored in 7 silos with total capacity of 97,000 tons.
No waste, everything is transformed into sustainable products
The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant produces annually 500,000 MWh of electricity. It consists of an LM6000 gas turbine, a waste heat recovery boiler, a 34 MVA steam turbine, a water treatment plant, two small shell boilers and a back-up plant consisting of three water tube boilers and a 20 MVA steam turbine. The plant supplies heat and power to the sugar factory and bioethanol plant, as well as waste heat and carbon dioxide to the 46 acres of greenhouses on site producing 140,000,000 tomatoes a year! The CHP plant also normally exports 45MW of power back to the National Grid, enough to supply a population of 120,000 people.
British Sugar therefore produces a wide range of products, for example 140,000 tons of animal feed, 6,000 tons of betaine, 55,000 tons of bio-ethanol, 120,000 tons of limex, 15,000 tons of tomatoes, 150,000 tons of topsoil, 5,000 tons of stone cleaned and sold as aggregate each year. A carbon dioxide recovery and liquefaction plant recovering up to 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year from the bio-ethanol fermentation processes.
Being able to download multiple jobs to the MC5 calibrator means a day’s worth of calibrations can be given out at the start of a shift; therefore instrument technicians can plan their day better.Trevor Wolfe, EC&I Engineer, British Sugar, UK
Work smarter not longer
Wissington’s CHP plant is shut down for a maintenance period of 10 days a year. During this period all maintenance tasks have to be completed including statutory and mandatory testing, repairs and inspections.
There are six shift operators and a day support team comprising the CHP Manager, a CHP Mechanical Engineer and the EC&I Engineer. They are responsible for running and maintaining the whole plant, safely and efficiently within environmental limits. “It is essential that we all work together so that there is no interruption of steam supply to our clients. Any interruption to the steam supply would shut the sugar factory down, causing much inconvenience and expensive downtime, potentially destroying a multi-million pound tomato crop and causing us financial penalties through loss of export revenue”, the EC&I Engineer Trevor Wolfe, describes.
The introduction of a new boiler house standard required all instruments to be calibrated every year. The standard was to ensure that all safety and operationally critical instrumentation would be in good working order if ever called upon in earnest. This meant that over 400 instruments would have to be calibrated in a short period of time. The instrumentation in use at the plant is a mixture of temperature, pressure, flow, pH and conductivity transmitters together with pressure gauges and switches. This created its own challenges and one solution was to employ more contract labour and work longer hours in the outages. However, there is only one CHP EC&I Engineer on site and the corporate agenda was to work smarter not longer. A system was trialled by the factory electrical technicians by using the CMMS system to schedule the calibration work to the shift technicians. However, the system took several days to turn around work orders with corrective actions, which was unacceptable for such a short outage period.
Cutting time for outage calibrations by half with the Beamex MC5 and CMX
Beamex calibration equipment and software was introduced as a solution to minimize the time required for each calibration. The first step was to use a Beamex MC5 and then develop a Beamex CMX calibration database, which was used to help manage the calibrations during an annual outage. Subsequently, the site purchased one MC5 multifunction calibrator and CMX calibration software and Trevor Wolfe successfully introduced the Beamex Integrated Calibration Solution cutting the amount of time taken to complete outage calibrations by half, while complying with the company standards and without increasing labour costs. “Utilizing the Beamex set up successfully helped to halve the amount of time taken to complete outage calibrations, therefore enabling us to comply with the company standards without increasing labor costs”, Trevor comments.
The MC5 multifunction calibrator allowed Trevor to optimize the calibration process, and perform field-based calibration whereas, previously pressure instruments were generally taken to a workshop for calibration. Calibration time was minimized and the risk of introducing leaking impulse lines was reduced. “Less time is wasted with technicians returning to the workshop to swap equipment, thanks to the Beamex MC5 calibrator having all-in-one capabilities meaning that most calibrations can be carried out with one single calibrator”, Trevor continues. The instrument technicians also adopted the concept of combining a loop test with each calibration by working in pairs via radio contact. “Being able to download multiple jobs to the MC5 calibrator means a day’s worth of calibrations can be given out at the start of a shift; therefore instrument technicians can plan their day better”, Trevor Wolfe add.